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Discussion: Improve the Tournament of Champions please

Posted Discussion
July 31, 2007
Bob50
Men's 60
239 posts
Improve the Tournament of Champions please
Our team was invited to the first TOC last year and we were fortunate enough to win. For that we are very proud. It was without a doubt the best tournament we ever attended and many other fellow softball players have stated the same thing on this message board.

Can it be improved? The answer is yes. If you plug in the team ratings you will find in the left margin a list of a number of associations who all have national tournaments. The most recent edition of our Senior Softball newspaper lists when and where these tournaments will be held. Obviously there is cooperation between the associations to make our softball experience as positive as possible. So my question is this--why don't the champions from each of these associations get an invite to the TOC? It doesn't seem right to exclude them.

For example, once again our team was fortunate this past weekend to win the ISA in St. Louis. For that we were given an invitation to the TOC and for that we are very thankful. What doesn't make sense is that my previous team, Windy City, that includes many of my friends and current league teammates won the SPA National in Kanscity City and did not get an invitation to the TOC. In the ISA National there were 4 teams in 50 Major. In Kansas City there were 10 teams in 50 Major.

My point is this--If you truly want to earn bragging rights by winning the TOC shouldn't it be necessary to beat all the champions. At the very least invite them. It doesn't cheapen the tournament it strengthens it.

Just my thoughts.

Bob Schulz
Travelodge 55's
July 31, 2007
CAT
148 posts
All about $$$$$$ and not willing to share...
July 31, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
I brought that up in another thread or post, But I too think having the different assn's pool resources together and have a "battle of the best teams" do it in the same year instead of a couple of months int a new year when players are moving changing and usually out of shape from not being in the game for a couple of months.
They "diccuss" rules, bats, & balls, why not some other player concerns as well. This is a good one, imo.
July 31, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
Suppose they (any assn, for that matter) and nobody came.
Think of all the time and effort trying to put it together from the get go or thought, money spent on phone calls, any traveling to discuss locations and arrangements for fields, hotels etc etc, that would be all for not.
But as we know this won't happen, why, because we tolerate any and all that is right as well what we question or would like to see different.
Perehaps that's why control is in their hands reguardless of where the money goes, someone has to do the work, like it or not,
With the thousands of players in that play can you imagine just how many suggestions would flood the suggestion box.
let alone just on here.
Not that any are or aren't thought about seriously. After all the only bad question is one never asked.
July 31, 2007
Enviro-Vac
Men's 60
391 posts
I would think the SSUSA TOC is supposed to be just that. A TOC for teams who play & won SSUSA Worlds / Nationals etc. If other Associations want to have a combined group TOC that would be great as well and Bob you are obviously on to something there. As a side note, SSUSA does have an agreement with Slo-Pitch Nationals (SPN Canada) for the winner of the Canadian Nationals to be given a birth to the TOC.

IMO freezing a roster is not a good idea. It might be easier for a sponsored team that pays for travel to have a roster frozen but otherwise, to expect ALL the same players that attended the birth tournament to attend a TOC that could potentially be at the other end of the continent is unrealistic. You should be able to bring the best players from your area that can both afford and take the time to go.
I think that favorable or unfavorable opinions regarding the date and location of a TOC may depend a lot on where you live. We in Canada like the idea of a TOC in warmer climes …in January or February. Change nothing.
July 31, 2007
DesertGuy
Men's 60
224 posts
Seeing this topic come around again made me remember that my very first post here was about this year's TOC. And nothing I wrote about then has changed in my mind. Congrats to Bob50 for making it again and I hope you enjoy it this time around too.

The TOC this year was the first of its kind by any association. Congrats to Ssusa for creating it. But as I said in those early posts, this is something the Ssusa has that is one of a kind. They thought of it. They made it happen. They took on the risk to do it. And most people that posted about it here agreed with Bob's comments about it being the best.

So, I wonder, why invite the other associations and maybe mess it up. It's got to be good for Ssusa, and this is America where it's OK to have a better product than the next guy. It's OK to invite the ISA champions because if I remember right, Bill Ruth is in charge of ISA and he and Terry own Ssusa. So the TOC really is something special to them and they should be the ones that get the praise for doing it, along with the support.

I remember when the Rose Bowl had only the Pac-8 (before 10) and Big Ten champs playing in it. It was the best bowl game almost every year. Then that crazy thing called the BCS got involved (all for money, by the way) and the Rose Bowl has fallen in importance, except once every 4 or 5 years. So I say congrats to Ssusa for creating it. And don't fall to pressure to make it more than it is. Right now people seem to think it's the best tournament out there. That's good because it makes teams want to play in the major Ssusa qualifying tournaments to get there. That's what I love about competition in the marketplace in America. If you have the best, people will buy the best. It's nothing more than good marketing of a real good product.

All the other stuff about when it get played and the roster stuff is something that maybe they will look at. But for us, if we're lucky enough to get there this year, the timing is not a big deal. It's just another tournament for us in our 12 month playing season.
July 31, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
E-V
I thought freezing the roster was for what it usually did, Keep the teams from adding players who were "ringers" from playing on that team.
However with a (written) waver, I'm sure it happens anyway.
As for true TOC locations I suggested moving it around. You guys probably travel the furthest.
July 31, 2007
the wood
1076 posts
Desert Guy:
I don't know who you are but you seem like a reasonable guy. Your posts are usually well thought out and unique.
I would add that the other associations have different geographic roster rules. They also use different rules in the game itself. For SSUSA to even consider allowing the winners from the other assns, it would only make sense if everyone knew that they would need to adhere to SSUSA rules. In addition, as you pointed out, it should be their (SSUSA) show as they are the risk takers.
I am a proponent of frozen rosters or perhaps a couple of additions... but not wholesale changes. GSF will consider going this year... but we need to qualify first. :-)

LL:
Those of us that play know that you are one of the most well-respected players (and people) throughout senior softball. We never liked to see you with the bat in your hands... ever.
Also, congratulations on your win in Boaz. We know how tough TT can be as they essentially dominated the 55 division over the past 2 years. To beat them you must have definitely been clicking on all cylinders.
see you in AZ.
Bob Woodroof
July 31, 2007
DoubleL10
Men's 65
811 posts
Bob, Thanks for the kind words; I have always enjoyed playing against you guys - a few years back - since your team was and is a class act. Adding Steve Callan to your roster didn't hurt either!

We were certainly hot against Turn 2 the last two games - both very close. I think the 5 run per inning limit hurt them since they got their 5 with less than 2 outs on several occasions while we had to work hard to get 5 with 2 outs most of the time. Had several guys with OUTSTANDING tournaments including our MVP Joe Flores (19-20).

Best of luck to your team and we'll see you in Phoenix and Vegas!
July 31, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
Bob,
Your correct about the different rules between the different assn's, and those could be a problem. Buyt I doubt it.
But whom ever does it, I'm sure would make those rules clear.
I also believe the phrase TOC or something like it, could be used by any of the assn's out there.
Who's to say another assn could not take the ball and put it in their court.
I think the first one to do it would add alot to the term, game and their standing as an assn.
After that there would really be only one champion, per division & bracket, not the multiples we see all from over the country.
This would be champions from all over competing against the others from all over.
Might get more than the 2,3,4,5 team bracket -divisions that we see as well.
But so many road blocks & detours are out there to put this together, I doubt any one assn could would take the time.
July 31, 2007
Gary Heifner
248 posts
Hi Bob:

There was a discussion on this months ago. I agree improve it. These are my thoughts.
1. Have it the 1st weekend in december.
2. Same roster.
3. SSWC teams only.
4. Try and make it a 16 team field.

Open it to champs 1st. Then go to the 2nd place finishers. If spots are still open, offer a spot to the 3rd place teams. If there are more 2nd place finishers that want to come than there are spots, simply have a lottery drawing. Seed the 1st place teams in the prelims so they will not play a 1st place team, only 2nd and 3rd place teams. My rationale here is that in most major tournies, there is not a lot of difference in the final 3. The best team does not always win. Also, be honest, when you only have 2 or 3 teams in a division for the TOC it is a joke. The above would ensure 16 very strong teams that would make a terrific tourney.
July 31, 2007
Bob50
Men's 60
239 posts
Sorry Gary I need to disagree with you. Allowing 2nd or 3rd place teams in only SSWC tournaments to qualify would be a step in the wrong direction. I think the goal should be to strengthen the tournament by allowing champions from outside SSWC to be invited. Your idea turns the other tournaments into qualifiers for only one association's so called Tournament of Champions. As it now stands it is basically the SSWC Tournament of Champions not the Tournament of Champions in the sense of all champions. That is the point I am trying to make and the point I hope SSWC takes into consideration.
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
Ist week in December is good.
Limited to SSUSA\SSWC, not good, should be for all assns. After all most of us play in more than one.
Same roster is a good point, but doubt that will happen. Far too many exception come in to play everywhere for for almost anything.
A large number of fielded team even better yet, but I feel it should be restricted to 1st, place finishers primarily, but do think 2nd could have a place if scores were very close over all for the 2nd place finishing teams. No 3rd. But I see your point in whom they play.
Any team can be beaten on any given day given the right circumstances. Everyone need to be completely in the game.
Aug. 1, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
The last tournament of the year being the TOC I think makes a lot of sense.

On roster's though one question. If a team has a 15 man roster all year and the one tournament that they qualify for the TOC player X doesn't play in because he is in hospital. Would you consider him as a roster player for the TOC?

Another example like in my case I have qualified with 1 70 team where I am an outfielder and a 75 team were I am the pitcher.

My 70 team decides to the TOC but because I have a lot of problems lately with my legs from chemotherapy a few years ago and they get to the point I can't play in the outfield anymore shouldn't that team be able to replace me?

There has to be some strict procedure for roster changes in there somewhere.
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
This assn allows you to be on 2 rosters as long as different age groups etc. Not sure about others out there.
I feel that if you were rosered even if you didn't play you still were rostered.
I've seen have 20-25 players listed on rosters, just to be sure they are covered for the bigger ones.
But at the same time if you ended up for some reason playing with another team (somewhere - anywhere) else that might raise a question.
I've seen and read about many exceptions given so you never know that will go on.
Aug. 1, 2007
Sisavic
135 posts
Roster consistency is the real reason for limiting teams from other associations. SS-USA wants the TOC to be credible, but it has control and review rights over only SS-USA and ISA (Ruth owns both).

As I understand it, the TOC was originally set up for all associations, but there was no acceptable way to ensure credible rosters.

I've had teams in the same year at SPA, USSSA, ASA, SSWS, LVSSA, Huntsman Games, the TOC and SS-USA Nationals/Worlds and had significantly different players on my rosters. Without trying to sandbag, I added players up to Major+ to my AAA roster (It didn't help because we never even placed in the top 3, except USSSA.) SS-USA is the only association that checked and enforced my roster.

This doesn't mean the TOC can't be improved. I'm concerned that roster additions are a bit too flexible. Also, SS-USA has a rule that a team will be invited to the TOC at the level it played in the tournament it won, even if the team has been moved up. For example, Team A can win a AAA tournament/Qualifier early in the year and immediately be moved up to Major because it crushed the competition. The current rule says Team A will compete as a AAA team at the TOC. This doesn't make sense to me.

There are lots of good ideas in this thread. I hope SS-USA listens.

The Gripper
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
Sisavic,
Your correct on the move up. But I agree w\ the assn that if they won at say AAA, they play at that level.
As I understand it, they don't automatically move up when you win just one. It's posted somewhere in this forum. Keeping honest rosters or taking to time to check or validate them could be a problem as you say.
Loopholes not withstanding, I dont think you were above board in roster submissions, IF I read your post correctly.
I'd love to play in as many different ones as you seen to have done.
Aug. 1, 2007
Bob50
Men's 60
239 posts
Sisavic has added some intereting questions regarding rosters. Personally for our teams over the last nine years we have retained basically the same roster throughout the entire year. It appears the only fair way to allow a team to come into the TOC is with the roster they signed in with but with one exception. A roster loaded with names of players should be limited to the players who actually participated in the tournament that qualified the team for the TOC. Beyond that to compensate for players moving away or injuries a rule that allows the addition of two players subject to SSUSA normal rules. I believe this is the way they do it anyway and I think it is the fairest way to regulate rosters as far as maintaining good competition and participation. Any futher ideas or thoughts?
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
Bob50,
His different rosters were for different assn's which in it's self is not a problem, until it comes to using a different one for that same assn.
I think that is why using a roster you won with is the only real way to self check yourself for fair play.
I hope I said that right.
Aug. 1, 2007
DesertGuy
Men's 60
224 posts
Great topic so far, a lot of interesting ideas for the folks at ssusa to ponder. Trying to touch a few of those bases here without tripping and falling, here are a few thoughts of my own.

1. Early December is a good idea. Wonder how that would affect the ssusa Tucson tournament here, and the TOC, as they both probably have multi year contracts. How many years it would be before early December could become a real option?

2. I'm all for Champions ONLY, and I don't really care much if they come from places other than ssusa and ISA, but only if ssusa roster (I totally agree with sisavic's comments on that) and playing rules apply. So I guess I'm humorously opposed to what GaryH described as the "Tournament of Champions, Some Second Place Teams and a Few Others Thrown in That Never Even Played in a Tournament Finals". That just doesn't sound right to me, Gary! :-)
3. I'm also not sure that bigger is better here anyway. The TOC is a 3 day deal, and trying to get it bigger isn't where it should be going. If there are something like more than 20 playing divisions, a goal of 16 teams each would be impossible to run in 3 days. That would be over 300 teams in 3 days. Even the ssusa World's in Seattle last year took about two weeks with only like 200 teams. I see on the TOC invited teams list so far, which hasn't been changed for the ISA winners last week, that some divisions already have 7 or 8 teams invited. I know that not all teams invited can go, but a more realistic 'best size' may be in the 5 to 8 teams situation.

Anyways, keep the good thoughts coming and don't be shy about criticism of mine.
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
DG,
You are probably correct on the contract part…guarantees both sides a time frame and money coming in.
I don’t think the overall goal was for a bigger one, just for one with Champions from all over & from all the assn’s. Not limited as it is. How can you be a Champion of the select few…and call it a TOC? Perhaps the title: SSUSA \ SSWC \ ISA TOC is more correct.
You and others are correct on the rules roster problems, but whom ever (if anyone) ventures to try this out their rules & rosters would apply. Checking on all that is\are the teams and assn’s responsibility.
Also believe one goal is to have full age and ratings brackets, normally at least 6 in each.. Many complaints have been about some very low numbers in divisions to play against, lately and in the past.
Teams, I doubt would stay longer than the 3 day tourneys we have now. It’s bad enough loosing your games only to try to come back from the looser bracket and have to play as many as 5 games on Sunday to win it. But, it’s possible, and they have to be prepared for it.
Don’t miss that plane ride home….
Aug. 1, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
I agree having 15-20 on a roster is great but in our area leagues we are lucky if we can get 12 players to travel never mind 20.
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
Fred,
That is the problen I had with 3, 50's - 55 teams, Had a core of 7 -8 I could depend on, but was like pulling a tooth to get the other 5. Gave last one to one of the players who scrapped it after a year. Now I just play.
My area has 14 senior league teams minimum. Out of that, only one 55 team made of local guys, one 60 & 65 team run by same guy but has guys from all over the place playing on them. Those last two TRAVEL. The 55 maybe gets int 1 a month. For a city population of over 1\4 M, it's sad. Bad enough I have to travel 250+mi to play for my teams local tourney.
Aug. 1, 2007
DesertGuy
Men's 60
224 posts
Good points all taits. I guess what it comes down to is that ssusa thought of it first and it was by all accounts the best tournament anyone ever played in if you believe the posts here. I know, that's a dangerous thing to do.

In my poinion, ssusa is the best at what they do right now. They have the best method for keeping rosters honest, which is a thankless task at best. They are the best at getting out their information, schedules and results. They are going to have a huge world's this year in Phoenix. A friend of mine in the Phoenix Parks and Rec. told a buddy of mine that 350 teams is what they could get. SPA didn't do Plano this year, which was a great tournament in the past. ISA was pretty small. NSA is probably irrelevant.

So, if ssusa wants to call it simply the TOC, they probably have the right to. Until someone else does it as well or better, I guess it's their ball game. As for not missing my flights, we have to win something to get there first! We'll keep trying though, and maybe we can be one of the teams that gets to play with the best of the best.
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
DG,
This is the best tournament(s) on a regular basis, I agree. Solid well put together team that works hard to make them come together smoothly.
Having only this to compare against 3-4 in Vegas which is not even close. But the Huntsman Games takes the cake for a 1 time a year tournament.
I'd love to go to Phoenix, but one need a team going...
Aug. 1, 2007
the wood
1076 posts
I agree with you guys on SSWC (SSUSA) being the best at running tournaments. We have played in SSWS, SPA & LVSSA for most of the past 6 years. We played in Seattle last Sept and was very impressed with it. We're speaking of the major event for each of these assns each year.
We like their level of organization, their freedom of information (draw, fields, etc.), the frequency of their events (qualifiers, etc.) and their competancy at marketing them (getting the message out in plenty of time). Not to mention they have the best message board (semi-relevant).
It should be obvious to one and all that they have the largest staff and budget, as a direct result, they reap the largest benefits. This didn't happen overnight and it is not coincidental.
If they want to keep their TOC 'in house', who could blame them? If we want to participate in it, it behooves us to qualify for it.
If they want to open it up to the winner's of other assns, they will open themselves up to input from the same folks that haven't been able to do this on their own. We would be interested in doing so whether they allow add'l players or not but we (GSF) might be better served if they do not.
Bob Woodroof
Aug. 1, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
Bob,
I agreee down to the "in house" part. It seems to me from reading the news paper they put out, that they are trying to spread their wings, as it were. Getting into leagues, and more of various age groups. I think this is great,
But with a spreading out comes other teams sued to playing under different regs.. Who's to say you can't teach an old dog net tricks, (rules to go by)
Perhaps it is (sure looks like) the back and front door process all in one) to take over from where ASA left off or screwed up. Go for it.
Aug. 2, 2007
Brock
Men's 65
46 posts
Playing with the Scrap Iron 60s top division team out of Colorado, we would agree that having the TOC in December works better for ALL teams across the country than having it in February. We qualified to go last year and are qualified to go again this year but when we quit playing from about December until March the rust really sets into these old bodies and gives teams that play year round in the warmer climates a definite advantage when a tournament of this stature is played in February. Even in December we would welcome the TOC being played in a warmer climate but this would then be our last tournament of the year before we hibernate for the winter.

I also agree that this tournament should not be watered down just to try to get more teams in the tournament.
Aug. 2, 2007
Gary Heifner
248 posts
If you open it to other associations, get ready for:

"RINGER CITY"

None of the others police the rosters like the SSWC. You will be playing all star teams that will be loaded with strange names and bodies. The other MAJOR problem is that many of the guys on this board and in senior ball can be best described as have glove will travel and win with a variety of teams in a season.

Also, Bob, I have a question for you. You have a teriffic team and who are you going to play in the TOC if you win the title in all the main associations? Also, how can you say a TOC would be just a qualifier when you will have the 16 top teams in the nation.
Aug. 2, 2007
the wood
1076 posts
Which Bob?
Aug. 2, 2007
Bob50
Men's 60
239 posts
Gary Heifner,

On behalf of our team I thank you for the high praise. Winning all the titles is a pipe dream. We will play in 5 Nationals but would be happy winning 1 more. There will be a number of different champions. We saw a very limited field in St. Louis. I can't remember playing any teams yet from the western states.

Again your idea to allow 2nd and 3rd place finishers to qualify for the TOC just doesn't make sense. It sure doesn't guarantee that the "16 top teams in the nation" would be invited.

Let's make the TOC stronger. To my knowledge this has never been done in softball at any age. Please correct me if anyone knows differently.

Bob Schulz
Aug. 2, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4337 posts
The wood that would have been you (Bob)
Aug. 2, 2007
Bob50
Men's 60
239 posts
Sorry about the confusion.
Aug. 3, 2007
the wood
1076 posts
Bob50,
I believe that he meant you, not me.
Aug. 5, 2007
Bob50
Men's 60
239 posts
Windy City has won another national--USSSA in 50 Major. Still doesn't qualify for a TOC invite. My point again is to invite the best teams as determined by National or World championship wins in all associations. Still play by SSUSA rules.

Windy City will be playing in the Eastern National next week but if they don't win it they will not receive an invite. They played in the Midwest Championships but did not win there. You can say they had their chance but they are a very good team and deserve to be included. There are others in the same boat. This is simply an example.

Further thoughts or comments?

Bob Schulz
Travelodge 55's
Aug. 5, 2007
DesertGuy
Men's 60
224 posts
Bob50- Congrats again to your former team and friends. They keep piling up wins and should be a force next year in Major+.

But on further thinking, I'm still not a believer that other association winners, with the variances in rules, the differing consistency (ranging from suspect to outright shameful) with which roster integrity is enforced, the presence or absence of 'out of area' players, playing rules and the like make for the type of consistency I would expect in the Tournament of Champions.

Windy City seems to have about 3 shots left, depending on their own schedule, at making it to the best tournament most of those that commented on it here have ever played in. They have the Eastern Nationals, the World Championships in Phoenix and the Winter Natrionals. I like the way this TOC is something everyone wants to play in. I find it even more interesting that the only way in to the best tournament is to win one of the qualifying tournaments run by the best association. That's the way it should be in the American free market place.

If the other associations would conform their roster integrity issues, it would go a long way to a stronger argument for inclusion. Right now, it's a poor fit in my opinion. Now if we could just win one of our own way in, it would really be perfect!
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